Wind and Thunder: Chapter Seven
The Ikkazuchi Way
INET occupied several skyscrapers throughout Angel Grove City, and Dr. William “Billy” Cranston had a private office in each building. It took Tommy the better part of a day to track down which skyscraper he would find Billy.
Tommy pushed open the doors to Billy’s high-rise office and stormed inside. Billy sat behind a sleek, black-polished desk within the dimly-lit office. A flat, holographic computer screen hovered over the desk.
“We need to talk,” Tommy said.
“You should feel privileged, Tommy,” Cranston leaned back in his chair and flashed a smug grin. “Most people have to make an appointment, instead of just barging in.”
“I’m not in the mood for this,” Tommy said.
Cranston nodded. “That makes two of us.”
“The Thunder Rangers,” Tommy said. “What do you know about them.”
“I’m afraid I don’t know what you‘re talking about,” Cranston said.
“The Thunder Rangers,” Tommy said more firmly. “You and I are the only ones capable of making Ranger powers. I didn’t make the Thunder powers. So that leaves you.”
“Your detective skills are second to none,” Cranston said sarcastically. “I didn’t make these Thunder Rangers. I have a Ranger team. Jet Force. And more are to come. SPD is coming online next year. Academia is opening its doors in 2010. Project Titan will be ready by 2011. Using INET as a front, I’ve expanded my operation in ways better than I dared to hope.”
Tommy shook his head. He knew better than to argue with Billy about using The Power as just another energy source. Tampering with The Power had dangerous repercussions. And for every Ranger team Dr. Cranston created, Fate would bring an enemy. But Billy never wanted to hear this truth.
“Oh, while you’re here…” Cranston pulled a file from below his desk and tossed it onto his desk top. “This is a file on your three Rangers. They’ve been labeled as potential threats by the government, at my recommendation.”
Tommy narrowed his brow. “What?!”
“Don’t worry, I haven’t disclosed their identities. Yet,” Cranston said.. “But eventually I’ll have to.”
“What the hell is the matter with you?”
“Have you seen Angel Grove Central lately?” Cranston asked. “Demon City. Where I grew up. It’s a wasteland. That‘s what happens when Rangers run around unchecked.”
“Rangers aren’t pawns of the government, Billy,” Tommy said.
“Your team has already caused millions in property damage.”
“So has yours.”
“And INET paid the repair bill.” Cranston leaned slightly forward. “Can you say the same? No. You can’t even afford a real home for your fiancé and son.”
Tommy rolled his hands into fists.
Cranston smiled with a twisted sense of enjoyment that Tommy found cold and unfamiliar. “What are you going to do, Tommy? Hit me?”
“Thought crossed my mind,” Tommy said. “Only this time you won’t have the Titanium Morpher to hide behind.”
“Get out,” Billy said.
“What are you going to do with that file.”
“Keep it until I need it,” Billy said. “Eventually your team is going to cross the line. When it does…I’ll be there.”
Billy’s office doors swung open, and 12 armed Silver Guardians walked in.
“They’ll show you out,” Billy said.
Tommy narrowed his eyes at his former teammate. His former friend. “This isn’t over.”
“Of course not,” Billy said.
Simon sat on the steps of the Hayate Way school. His sister had just left along with Shou and Kouishiro. Maya was determined to conduct more studies of Demon City, despite her younger brother’s objections. Several demonic landmarks and artifacts had arisen in Demon City, and she wanted to compare them to ancient civilizations she had studied.
Rachel walked up from behind Simon and sat next to him on the steps. “You miss her don’t you?”
Simon nodded. “It felt like she was my only real family when I was younger. A lot of kids got shuffled in and out of our foster home. But Maya always stuck around. Longer than she had to. Then about five or six years ago, when my foster parents officially adopted me, Maya left. I hardly see her anymore.”
Rachel put a hand on his shoulder. “I’m sorry…”
Simon gently pulled away from her hand. “Don’t be sorry, it’s fine…I just hope she doesn’t get into trouble again with Demon City.”
Rachel shivered at the mention of the name. “I don’t know why anyone would go to that place. I never imagined how…” she shook her head. “I mean, you see pictures on TV, but it doesn’t really…”
“I know,” Simon said.
Rachel nodded. She took a deep breath and stood up. “Well…we’re not getting much done sulking around out here. Let’s go inside and figure out who these new Thunder Rangers are. It’ll get your mind off things.”
Simon, Justin, and Rachel sat on the couch in Ops. Tommy and Ashley sat in chairs on the other side of a coffee table.
“Do you believe him?” Simon asked.
Tommy nodded. “Billy would take credit for these Thunder Rangers if he created them.”
“How do we know they weren’t made by Jakanja?” Justin asked.
Tommy shook his head. “If Lothor learned how to make Ranger powers, he would use that power for himself. He wouldn’t just give something like that away. Especially not to humans.”
Simon scoffed. “I still can’t believe the Thunders are human. How could they turn their backs on their own planet?”
“Well,” Ashley said. “As of now, they haven’t.”
Rachel nodded. “They’ve only attacked us. And if they’re from the Ikkazuchi Way, that makes sense. They’ve never liked us. We’re their competitors.”
“Well they need to get over it,” Justin said. “If they’re Rangers they should be helping us fight Lothor, not laying the smack down on us.”
Simon nodded. “We need to confront them. Get them to listen to reason.”
“But they’re Ikkazuchi,” Rachel said. “What if they don’t want to listen?”
Simon narrowed his eyes. “We make them listen.”
Lothor wanted more information about the Thunder Rangers and their power. So he had Zergain send a Mecha Corps. monster to lure out the Power Rangers. Lothor hoped a battle between his forces and the Power Rangers would draw out the Thunders again.
The monster, a mechanical frog-like creature named Amphibidor, hopped towards the Angel Grove dam. The creature mumbled to himself in a computer language that sounded much like a frog’s ribbit.
Amphibidor opened its jaws and spat a group of mechanical tadpoles that plunged into the water below. The tadpoles absorbed the water at an alarming rate and quickly drained the dam.
The monster hopped on to its next target.
The Thunders powered down their Ranger armor and walked along the river between Angel Grove and Stone Canyon. They wore dark leather jackets and pants, each highlighted with their ranger color.
The two rangers were brothers: Elliot “Hunter” and Steven “Blake” Lee. Hunter, Crimson Thunder, was 18-years-old, and Blake, Navy Thunder, was a year younger.
They kneeled down to get a closer look at the river, which was practically drained dry.
“You think Jakanja did this?” Blake asked.
Blake snorted. “Idiots. They’re idiots.”
“No argument there,” Hunter said.
“So what do we do?” Blake asked.
“Wait,” Hunter said. “We’ll leave it to the Hayate brats. If they can’t handle it, we will.”
Blake shook his head. “We should just take them out and get it over with.”
“We’ll get our revenge,” Hunter said. “But there’re more important things to do in the meantime.”
Blake rolled his hands into fists.
Ashley retrieved a mechanical tadpole and brought it back to Ops. She placed the creature in a glass fish tank filled with water.
“Is that such a good idea?” Tommy asked. “Last time you brought something into Ops it turned into a mutant plant that tried to eat us.”
“You worry too much,” Ashley said.
“Mutant plant, Ashley,” Tommy said. “That tried to eat us.”
Ashley was about to hook a scanner onto the fish tank when the mechanical tadpole drained all its water. She looked to Tommy and smiled. “See. No mutant plants.”
Tommy grinned. “I’m just glad you took Tyler’s fish out of the tank first.”
Ashley hooked the scanner to the fish tank and sat at her computer. She started a data analysis that scrolled across her monitor. Tommy stood behind her. “Is that a wireless connection coming from that thing?”
Ashley nodded. “Looks like these tadpoles are connected to a member of the Jakanja Mecha Corps.”
“Good that means we can track him,” Tommy said. “Stop him from draining anymore of the city’s water.”
“Exactly,” Ashley said.
“I’ll contact the Rangers,” Tommy said. He paused for a moment. “You know, it still feels weird saying that.”
The river that cut between Angel Grove City and Stone Canyon spilled into a large lake just east of Angel Grove. The lake’s eastern border was surrounded by rocky hills that led into the mountains. The river leading into the lake had gone dry, and the lake itself was practically empty.
Simon, Justin, and Rachel ran along the lakeshore while searching for Amphibidor.
“I don’t get it,” Justin said. “Why would Jakanja want to drain the city’s water?”
“Probably just to tick us off,” Rachel said.
“Well it’s working,” Justin said.
“Stay alert guys.” Simon kept his eyes focused on his surroundings. “That monster should be around here somewhere.”
Amphibidor suddenly leapt from a nearby hill with a load croak. The creature landed behind the teens. The rangers turned to face their opponent.
“It’s time to take care of business!” Simon shouted. The rangers armed their morphers. “Senpu… Ninjetti change! Ha!”
Powerful cyclones of energy circled around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms. They snapped into fighting stances.
“Power of Air…Hurricane Red!”
“Power of Earth…Hurricane Yellow!”
“Power of Water…Hurricane Blue!”
“Hurricane Task Force, Power Rangers!” they shouted together.
Amphibidor fired a crackling pulse of neon-purple energy that wrapped around the Rangers. The tendrils of energy materialized into a chained mace that bound the three Rangers together.
The monster used its magnetic grip on the chain to lift the Rangers into the air and detonate the mace. The fiery explosion sent the Rangers flailing into the nearby lake.
The Rangers leapt from the water and somersaulted through the air before landing in front of their opponent.
“Gyro Blades!” Hurricane Red shouted.
The Rangers snapped off a volley of throwing stars from their wrist morphers. The spinning blades exploded against Amphibidor with bursts of spark that knocked the monster back several steps.
Then the monster suddenly faded from sight.
Hurricane Yellow cursed beneath his breath. “I hate it when they do that. Anyone else starting to hate it when they do that?”
Amphibidor reappeared and hopped past the Rangers while bashing across their chests with bursts of spark, flipping their bodies backward.
The monster landed, turned towards the Rangers, and spat mechanical tadpoles that attached to the Rangers’ armor and helmets. The tadpoles exploded with massive bursts of flame that knocked the Rangers back off their feet.
Amphibidor hopped back and forth, repeatedly smashing its feet onto the fallen Rangers, each strike sparking on impact.
Blurs of motion suddenly streaked from the hills. Hunter and Blake landed in crouched fighting stances near the battle.
The Power Rangers climbed to their feet. And faced the two teenagers.
“Those must be the Thunder Rangers,” Hurricane Blue said.
Hurricane Yellow shook his head. “Just what we don’t need right now. They suck. They have sucky timing and they suck.”
The Thunders armed their morphers. “Gorai…Ninjetti Change! Ha!”
Dark energy lashed around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms. They snapped into fighting stances.
“Power of Shadow…Crimson Thunder!”
“Power of Lightning…Navy Thunder!”
“Hidden Task Force…Thunder Rangers!”
The Power Rangers unsheathed their swords and stepped back into defensive stances. Hurricane Blue tightened her grip on her weapon. “You don’t have to do this…We‘re not your enemy.”
“Thunder Staffs!” The Thunder Rangers armed their staffs and aimed the weapons forward. They dashed towards the Power Rangers to attack.
The Power Rangers braced themselves…but the Thunder Rangers ran past them and towards Amphibidor.
The Thunder Rangers hopped forward and slashed their weapons across Amphibidor, staffs sparking on impact and pushing the monster back.
Tao Zento watched the battle unfold from his private chambers, hidden within the Jakanja ship. The Thunder Rangers’ power was impressive. If only their actions weren’t such a mystery. First they attack the Rangers. Now they attack his forces. What were they after? What were they trying to prove?
Lothor could not have cared less at the moment. “What are those idiots doing?!” He watched the battle from the bridge of his ship. “They’re supposed to be attacking the Rangers!”
“They are Rangers.” Chubo waddled towards his master. “You should just kill all of them and be done with it, master.”
“Agreed,” Zergain said. Zergain and Chubo looked at each other, startled they had just agreed on something. Both generals wanted Lothor’s favor, and neither wanted any competition from these Thunder Rangers. They were human.
Lothor casually swung his hand and fired a shadow blast that exploded against Chubo’s chest and knocked him backward. “No one asked you.”
Navy Thunder and Crimson Thunder ran past opposite sides of Amphibidor and spun while slashing their staffs across the monster’s body with bursts of spark. The Thunder Rangers turned, used their staffs to grab hold of Amphibidor, and hurled the monster through the air.
Amphibidor crashed against the ground and rolled back to his feet. The monster spat a volley of cybernetic tadpoles at the Thunder Rangers.
“Thunder Shields!” The Thunders snapped their staffs into circular formations, each producing an energy shield.
The tadpoles ricocheted off the Thunder Shields, shot back towards Amphibidor, and exploded against the monster.
“Thunder Stars!” The Thunders snapped their staffs into cross-shaped formations.
They swung the weapons, which charged with crackling energy, and hurled the blades towards Amphibidor. The Thunder Stars exploded against Amphibidor with a massive burst of flame that cracked the monster’s armor. The Thunder Stars circled back towards the Thunder Rangers.
The Thunder Rangers stalked towards their opponent and armed their weapons.
“Horn Blaster!” Crimson Thunder armed his cannon.
“Stag Breaker!” Navy Thunder armed a claw-shaped weapon.
The Navy Thunder Ranger pounced forward and used his claw to grab the monster by the midsection. Navy-tinted lightning bolts crackled along the Stag Breaker and exploded across the monster’s armor with a series of sparks. Navy Thunder lifted Amphibidor off his feet and tossed the monster aside.
Amphibidor crashed against the ground and looked up to see Crimson Thunder stalk towards him. The Ranger triggered his weapon, which fired dark-crimson-tinted pulses of shadow energy that exploded against the monster with massive bursts of spark.
The Thunder Rangers regrouped and combined their weapons into a single cannon. “Thunder Cannon!” they shouted. “Fire!”
The cannon fired a bolt of shadow energy that crackled with lightning and shot towards the monster. The blast exploded through the monster with a massive burst of spark and flame that tore its body apart.
The Thunders powered down their armor. They gave the Power Rangers a glance of contempt and started to walk away.
“Wait!” Hurricane Red shouted. He and the others powered down their armor and ran towards the Thunders. “What does this mean…first you try to kill us, then you save us…have you guys finally come to your senses?”
“Okay, we did not save you,” Blake said. He was agitated. He looked to his brother. “Can we just take them out now.”
“Not yet,” Hunter said.
Justin scoffed. “Oh come on, you guys can’t be serious. I know our schools are rivals and everything, but that doesn’t mean we should fight against each other. We can help each other stop Jakanja.”
“They attacked your school,” Rachel said. “Destroyed it.”
“Good riddance,” Blake said. “That school turned into a joke. Always hiding in the shadows. Lending assassins to anyone. When we find It I’m going to put the Ikkazuchi back on the map.”
Simon arced an eyebrow. “Find what?”
Blake snorted laugh. “This is unbelievable.” He looked to his brother. “They don’t even know what Jakanja is after. They’re idiots.”
Tao Zento lifted his head. The Thunder Rangers knew about It? The Final Prophecy? Now it all made sense. He could use this to his advantage.
“It can’t be summoned without water, that’s the only reason we fought robo-Kermit,” Blake said. “So you can save all the let’s-just-be-friends crap.”
“Fine, so you want this…It,” Rachel said. “Why does that mean we have to fight.”
Blake looked to Hunter. “We don’t have time for this, let’s just morph and kick their butts.”
A large sphere transport suddenly shot across the river and hovered to a stop near the Thunder Rangers. The sphere had the scorpion seal of the Jakanja on its hatch.
“I understand…” Tao Zento’s voice came from the sphere. “You seek It just as I do. If we combine our forces, we can unlock It faster. I invite you to appear before me, a rare privilege, and hear my proposal.”
Blake looked to Hunter. “It would save us some time, not having to fight the Hayate brats and the Jakanja to get what we want.”
Hunter nodded. “Let’s hear what he has to say. Armor up first.” He looked up towards the sphere. “Agreed.”
The Thunders activated their morphers and transformed into their armor.
“You guys can’t be serious!” Simon shouted. “They’re the enemy!”
The sphere’s hatch swung open, and the Thunder Rangers stepped inside. The sphere shot across the river, back towards the ocean, where the Jakanja ship waited.
Simon, Justin, and Rachel joined Tommy and Ashley in Ops.
“Well we still don’t know how they got their powers, but at least now we know what they’re after…sort of,” Tommy said.
“The same thing as Jakanja, whatever that is,” Rachel said.
Tommy nodded. “I didn’t even know until now that Jakanja was after anything in particular.”
“How could you not have known?” Simon asked.
“Because as you love to point out, I’m no Zordon,” Tommy said.
“So what do we do?” Rachel asked.
“We wait,” Tommy said. “And learn what we can in the meantime.”
Ashley nodded. “We should have files on the Ikkazuchi Way students who have competed before. Maybe I can find a match to these Thunder Rangers.”
“Good idea,” Tommy said.
“Why not just go to the Ikkazuchi Way and see what we can find?” Simon asked. “Seems to me most of the answers we need are there.”
Tommy nodded. “You go ahead. Contact us if you run into any trouble.”
The Thunder Rangers appeared before Tao Zento within a secret chamber on the Jakanja ship. They had their arms crossed over their chests.
“Your plan was inept,” Crimson Thunder said to Tao Zento. “It can’t arise without water.”
Tao Zento did not disagree. “I see you know more about It than my own underlings.”
“That’s not saying much,” Navy Thunder said.
Tao Zento actually laughed, a low rumbling sound that echoed inside the room. “You amuse me, humans…but back to the matter at hand. I am offering you a chance to join us. To become part of Jakanja.”
Navy Thunder sniffed sharply. “We’re on no one’s side but our own.”
“A temporary partnership then,” Tao Zento said. “Why waste time fighting each other when we are both after the same goal. And besides…you need us. My Jakanja are the only ones that can corrupt the Earth and pave the way for It.”
“And after It arises, what then,” Crimson Thunder said. “Who will control It.”
“We will decide that when the times comes…” Tao Zento said. “One way or another, we will decide that when the time comes.”
After their meeting with Tao Zento, the Thunder Rangers stepped onto the bridge of Jakanja’s ship.
“Well, well, well,” Lothor said mockingly. “If it isn’t the Thunder Rangers.”
“Cut the crap,” Navy Thunder said. “Let’s just get straight to the point.”
Chubo waddled towards the Thunder Rangers and armed his short staff. “How dare you talk to the master that way!”
Chubo swung his staff towards Navy Thunder. But Navy Thunder used his forearm to block the blow. The Ranger narrowed his eyes beneath his helmet. “You brought us here, and now you wanna fight? You got it!”
Navy Thunder knocked the staff away. Crimson Thunder placed a hand on his brother’s shoulder to call him off before he could attack. The Crimson Thunder Ranger took a step towards Lothor. “You wanted our help. So what’s the next plan.”
“Chubo,” Lothor said. “You’ll work with the Thunder Rangers on your next mission.”
“But…” Chubo stammered. “I don’t need them, master. I can handle it alone.”
“Oh,” Navy Thunder mocked, “how dare you talk to the master that way?”
Chubo narrowed his eyes.
“Just do it, Chubo,” Lothor said. “I will not be questioned.” He looked towards the Thunders. “Be ready when I need you.”
The Hayate Way’s data on Ikkazuchi Way students was limited to competitors in the annual martial arts tournaments between the two schools. But Ashley managed to find files matching the Thunder Rangers. The files only had their pictures and names: Elliot “Hunter” Lee and Steven “Blake” Lee.
Tommy leaned closer to their pictures on Ashley’s computer. “You sure these are the Thunders?”
Ashley nodded. “They look just like them, only these pictures are a few years old.”
“Their names sound familiar,” Tommy said.
“Familiar from where?” Ashley asked.
“I’m not sure exactly,” Tommy said. “For some reason I’m thinking of Adam. Like maybe he knows them.”
“That would make sense,” Ashley said. “Adam was a student at the Ikkazuchi Way for a short while.”
Tommy nodded. “Until he realized how screwed up they were, and his dad pulled him out. But Adam was barely in middle school when that happened. The Thunders would have been too young.”
“Maybe he knows them another way,” Ashley said.
Tommy nodded. “Maybe. I’ll have to ask him. It’ll be nice to see him again anyway. We’ve kind of lost touch in the past few months.”
An icon on Ashley’s computer screen started blinking. “Hold that thought,” she said. She clicked on the icon and opened a map of Angel Grove. Sensors showed a small disturbance of some sort in Angel Grove West. “I’m picking up something strange in the city. Nothing as big as an attack, just…odd readings.”
“Like what?” Tommy asked.
“Disappearances,” Ashley said.
A woman walked alone along the city streets of Angel Grove West. The sound of a cicada suddenly cut through the air. She didn’t think anything of it. Had she given it any thought, she would have realized how strange it was for a cicada to be in the middle of the city with no trees or plants around for blocks.
A large cicada-like monster suddenly landed on the ground in front of her. She screamed and stepped back, stumbling over her feet and falling to the ground.
The monster spat a small cicada that flew through the air, landed on the woman’s neck, and bit down hard. The woman passed out and went limp. Chubo’s cicada monster, Kuttuku, picked up the woman and leapt towards the rooftops.
Hunter and Blake returned to the Ikkazuchi Way grounds, hidden in the rocky hills just outside of Angel Grove’s Little Tokyo. Torn banners and debris cluttered the landscape. Jakanja had demolished the school.
“I thought I said I never wanted to come back here,” Blake said. He was visibly agitated, as always. “I didn’t like this place when it was standing, why would I want to be here now that it’s a graveyard.”
“This place still has secrets we need.” Hunter eyed the landscape with the same icy calm he always had about himself. “This pact with Jakanja has bought us some spare time.”
Blake sniffed sharply. “I just hate this, I want…” He stopped himself from opening up. He pushed back his emotions and blocked them with anger. Anger was his tool. It kept him from being weak.
Hunter looked to his brother. “We’ll find what we need and leave. We won’t stay any longer than we have to.”
The Thunders heard footsteps come from the valley below them. They turned and looked down to see Simon walking across the grounds of the Ikkazuchi Way.
“You!” Blake shouted. “What are you doing here?”
“Looking for you,” Simon answered. He narrowed his eyes at the Thunders. “I have a question for you…what is It? And is It really so important that you’d side with Jakanja?”
Hunter looked to his brother. “Ignore him. Let’s go.” They started to walk off.
“Hey!” Simon leapt upward, somersaulted through the air, and landed in front of the Thunders. “I asked you a question. Answer me.”
“The answer is yes!” Blake slammed a punch across Simon’s face that knocked him off his feet.
Simon rubbed his jaw and rose back to his feet. “How can you ally yourselves with them. They’re killers! They want to destroy the entire freaking planet! They attacked our school, and yours too!” Simon picked up a broken banner and tossed it to their feet. “Look what they did to this place!”
“Don’t push me,” Blake said with growing frustration in his voice. “Okay?” He rolled his hands into fists. “Really, don’t think for a second I wouldn’t-”
“Blake,” Hunter said.
But Blake ignored his older brother and stepped closer to the ranger. “Yeah, Jakanja destroyed our school, and you know what, fine. On that day we made a vow. To use It to make ourselves stronger, and to bring the Ikkazuchi back to its prime. No more hiding in the mountains. No more selling assassins to petty drug dealers and nobodies. We’ll earn the world’s respect.”
“No matter what happens along the way?” Simon asked. “Think of all the people who will die if Jakanja has their way. What about your family-”
Blake lunged forward and slammed a punch against Simon’s face. “Don’t you ever talk about my family!” Blake slammed a kick against Simon’s stomach and smashed a backfist across his head. “You have no right!”
Simon crashed to the ground, and Blake slammed a kick against the fallen ranger. “You come here, all high and mighty!” He slammed another kick against Simon. “You have no idea what we’re about! What we’ve been through!” His foot slammed against Simon’s side. “We have to do this!”
Blake swung his foot towards Simon. But Simon caught Blake’s foot and pushed him backward. The ranger rolled back onto his feet. Simon narrowed his eyes. “I didn’t come here to fight you…”
Blake armed his morpher. “That’s too bad, isn’t it. Ninjetti Change!”
Chubo stood within his private chambers on the Jakanja ship. He watched an hourglass spill sand to mark the passage of time - time that was running out.
“Kuttuku has to move faster…” Chubo said. “I need 100 lives before it is too late…that bug must hurry!”
Kuttuku picked up his pace. The cicada monster leapt from rooftop to rooftop, spitting insects as he moved along. Several people were bitten by the bugs and knocked unconscious. Kuttuku leapt to the streets and scooped them up as he dashed along the city block.
Justin was only a few blocks away from the attack. He was dropping a child off at a foster home when his communicator toned. He ducked into an alley to answer. “This is Justin, go ahead.”
“Justin, it turns out Jakanja is behind the recent disappearances in Angel Grove West,” Tommy said through the communicator. “One of Jakanja’s Bio Corps. monsters is attacking near your location. That’s who’s responsible. Rachel is on her way. I’m having trouble getting a hold of Simon.”
“You think he ran into trouble?” Justin asked.
“I hope not,” Tommy said. “Just meet up with Rachel and do what you can.”
The cicada monster landed in a small shopping district as city-goers ran with panic. The creature spat a volley of cicadas that buzzed towards the frantic crowd.
A blue rope and yellow rope suddenly latched onto the creature’s arms and spun him around. Hurricane Yellow and Hurricane Blue used the ropes to bind the creature.
“Ah, the Power Rangers!” Kuttuku shouted. He had no time to battle the Rangers. He had to carry out Chubo’s plan.
“Very observant!” Hurricane Yellow shouted. “Gyro Blades!” The Rangers snapped a volley of throwing stars from their wrist morphers. The spinning blades exploded against the creature with massive bursts of spark.
Kuttuku grabbed the ropes and pulled, whipping the Rangers off their feet. The creature opened its wings and flew past the Rangers. Hurricane Yellow and Hurricane Blue climbed back to their feet just as Kuttuku squirted juice that splattered against the Rangers’ visors.
“Gross!” Hurricane Yellow wiped the juice from his visor. “That is just wrong on so many levels.”
Hurricane Blue watched the cicada monster fly off towards the distance. “We have to follow him. Let’s use our gliders.”
Hurricane Yellow nodded. “Wind Gliders!”
“Fight me!” Navy Thunder shouted. He snapped a spinning heel kick that Simon rolled beneath, then lunged at the ranger with a series of punches that the ranger blocked.
“I told you I didn’t come here to fight,” Simon said. He tried to keep his anger in check but didn’t know how much longer he had until he lost it and fought back against the Ranger. “We should be on the same side, dammit!”
Navy Thunder slammed the heel of his palm against Simon’s chest, knocking the teen backward. Simon slid down a rocky hill and slammed his head against a stone, which knocked him unconscious.
Hunter walked over to his brother. “Leave him. We have our part to play with Chubo’s so-called plan.”
Blake powered down his armor, spat at Simon, and walked away with his brother.
Hurricane Blue and Hurricane Yellow landed in a wooded park area in Angel Grove West. They had followed Kuttuku to the park, but lost sight of the monster.
Hurricane Yellow looked around the area. “I know he landed here somewhere. Where’d the little bugger sneak off to?”
Hurricane Blue placed a hand on Hurricane Yellow’s shoulder to get his attention. She pointed to the distance. “Justin, look.”
Dozens of people were trapped in web cocoons latched onto trees. The Rangers ran deeper into the woods towards the cocoons. They were obviously the missing people Kuttuku had kidnapped.
“It looks like they’re alive, but barely,” Hurricane Blue said.
“Those bugs are stuck to their necks,” Hurricane Yellow said.
Explosions sparked around the Rangers and tossed them backward. They rolled into crouched fighting stances and looked up to face the cicada monster.
“I see you’ve found the food for my children,” Kuttuku said.
“What?” Hurricane Yellow said.
“My insects will feed off the humans’ life force and grow to humanoid size,” Kuttuku explained. “Then they will multiple by the hundreds and lay waste to your planet!”
“That’s not going to happen,” Hurricane Yellow said. “Storm Sabers!”
The Rangers unsheathed their swords and charged to attack. They hacked against the creature, blades sparking on impact and forcing the monster away from the cocoons. Their attacks knocked Kuttuku onto his back. The Rangers held their blades towards the insect monster’s neck.
“Let those people go,” Hurricane Blue said.
Streaks of motion suddenly dashed through the woods and knocked the Rangers backward. Hunter and Blake landed nearby in crouched fighting stances. They looked up to face their opponents.
“Not these guys again.” Hurricane Yellow tightened his grip on his sword.
The thunders armed their morphers. “Gorai…Ninjetti Change! Ha!”
Dark energy lashed around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms. They snapped into fighting stances.
“Power of Shadow…Crimson Thunder!”
“Power of Lightning…Navy Thunder!”
“Hidden Task Force…Thunder Rangers!”
The Thunder Rangers dashed forward to attack.
Lothor smiled wickedly as he watched the battle through his viewscreen. The Thunder Rangers were fighting under his command. Their power was his to control. They would likely give him the leverage he needed against Tao Zento.
Lothor was growing tired of Tao Zento and his obsession with the Final Prophecy. The Thunders were after It as well, which Lothor was sure he could use to his advantage to turn them against Tao Zento, but keep them on the side of the Jakanja.
“My Jakanja,” Lothor whispered.
Marah turned her head from the other side of the bridge. “What?”
“Silence!” Lothor shouted.
Hurricane Yellow chopped his sword towards Thunder Crimson’s head. But Thunder Crimson blocked the blow, knocked the Yellow Ranger’s sword aside, and slashed his staff across Hurricane Yellow’s chest with a series of strikes, each sparking on impact.
The Crimson Thunder Ranger stabbed his staff against Hurricane Yellow’s gut and pushed him backward, slamming his back against a tree. Crimson Thunder used his staff to lift the Yellow Ranger and hurl him through the air.
Hurricane Yellow managed to somersault through the air and land in a crouched fighting stance. He turned towards his opponent and placed his right fist against his left palm. “Earth Style! Tunneling Jutsu!”
Hurricane Yellow drilled beneath the ground and shot towards Crimson Thunder while kicking up dirt.
Crimson Thunder placed his right fist against his left palm. “Shadow Style! Towering Clone Jutsu!”
A giant copy of Crimson Thunder rose from the ground and crackled with power. The illusion took on solid shape and stomped down on Hurricane Yellow in the midst of his tunneling jutsu.
The illusion vanished, leaving Hurricane Yellow partly buried in dirt. The Yellow Ranger was not moving.
Nearby, Hurricane Blue dashed across water and aimed her rifle at Navy Thunder. “Storm Blaster!”
The Blue Ranger fired lances of golden energy that streaked towards Navy Thunder. But the Navy Thunder Ranger twirled his staff to deflect each blast.
Navy Thunder dashed across the water, grabbed Hurricane Blue in a choke hold, and leapt through the air while dragging her along. He smashed her against a tree and released his sold while somersaulting through the air.
Navy Thunder landed on his feet, and Hurricane Blue crashed against the ground.
The Blue Ranger rolled into a crouched fighting stance. “Hydro Blast!” She thrust her arms forward and fired a stream of water that speared towards Navy Thunder.
“Thunder Shield!” Navy Thunder snapped his staff into its circular shield mode, which reflected the blast right back towards Hurricane Blue. The Hydro Blast exploded against her armor with bursts of spark that knocked her off her feet.
The Power Rangers regrouped as the Thunders stalked towards them.
“Hey!” a voice shouted from the trees. It was Simon. Bruised and battered, the teen ran onto the scene. He stopped nearby and glared at the Thunder navy. “You wanted to fight…well here I am!”
Simon armed his morpher. “Senpu… Ninjetti change! Ha!”
A powerful cyclone of energy circled around him as he morphed into his Ranger form. He snapped into a fighting stance. “Power of air…Hurricane Red!”
Hurricane Red and Navy Thunder squared off. The Red Ranger glared from beneath his helmet. “I’m through with trying to convince you to join our side. You want to be part of Jakanja so bad? Fine. Their fate will be yours!
“Storm Saber!” Hurricane Red unsheathed his sword.
Thunder Navy tightened his grasp on his staff. “For wanting to fight, you sure do talk a lot.”
Hurricane Red and Navy Thunder leapt through the air at each other. Navy Thunder swung his staff towards Hurricane Red, but the Red Ranger kicked the staff aside and slammed a kick against Navy Thunder’s chest.
“Air Style! Whirlwind Strike Jutsu!” Hurricane Red kept his foot planted on the Navy Thunder Ranger’s chest and pushed him backward through the air. The Red Ranger swung his saber through a series of butterfly patterns that sparked across Navy Thunder’s chest with bursts of spark.
Hurricane Red used his foot to slam Navy Thunder against a tree and pin him there.
Navy Thunder knocked Hurricane Red’s leg away and smashed a backfist across the Red Ranger’s helmet.
Nearby, Thunder Crimson armed his weapon. “Horn Blaster!” He fired shadow-energy pulses that exploded against Hurricane Yellow and Hurricane Blue with bursts of spark.
Thunder Navy also armed his weapon. “Stag Breaker!”
The Navy Thunder Ranger pounced forward and grabbed Hurricane Red between the Stag claws. Thunder Navy lifted the Red Ranger off his feet and sent tendrils of navy-tinted lightning crackling along the Stag blades. The lightning lashed out and exploded against Hurricane Red’s armor.
The cicada monster hovered in the woods nearby. He floated in midair and chanted as his insects chirped with a high-pitched sound that echoed across the wind. The insects started to grow and expand. It was almost time. His children would-
Kuttuku dropped dead to the ground. His insects fell dead from their prey. And the webs withered and slackened, releasing the kidnapped people.
Lothor glared at Chubo. Chubo took a step back and waved his hands defensively. “Cicadas have short life spans. I tried to hurry. It was only seconds away from...” He looked to Kapri. “Kapri! Fire a scroll and bring Kuttuku back to life. He‘s powerful, he‘ll crush the Rangers!”
Kapri launched a scroll with the enlargement spell. The scroll shot through the air, unfolded, and expanded to giant size. Ancient markings on the scroll glowed with dark power that attracted the dusty remains of Chubo’s cicada monster.
The monster resurrected as a towering giant.
Hurricane Red lifted his Gyro Morpher closer to his faceplate. “Storm-zords, mobilize!”
The Storm-zords charged into battle while passing through a trio of holographic entry portals. The Rangers leapt into their cockpits.
“Storm-zords assemble!” Hurricane Red shouted. “Whirlwind fusion!”
The three zords transformed and started to combine. The lion zord formed the chest, body, left arm, and legs. The dolphin formed the Megazord’s right arm, and the hawk flew in and formed the head.
“StormMegazord!” Hurricane Red shouted from his cockpit. “Senpuujin!”
Kuttuku dashed forward with a jumpkick towards the Megazord’s head. But StormMegazord blocked the blow and slammed the back of its fist across the monster’s head. The Megazord stepped forward and slammed a punch against Kuttuku that knocked the monster backward.
“Power Disc,” Hurricane Red inserted a disc into his console. “Lock…and drop.”
StormMegazord’s chest plate opened, and a Power Sphere hovered out. The Sphere itself opened, and the Megazord’s saber formed.
“Serpent Sword!” Hurricane Red shouted.
The monster stumbled towards the Megazord.
“Serpent Sword, Triple Strike!” Hurricane Red shouted.
The Megazord emitted two holographic duplicates that stood by the original’s sides. The blade of each Megazord saber energized and slashed one-by-one through the villain.
“See ya!” Hurricane Red shouted.
The monster’s energy overloaded and exploded.
Tommy walked into Adam’s apartment in Angel Grove East later that day. The former Green Lion Ranger was now an officer on the police force, the same as his father. They visited for a while about personal matters before getting to business.
“I remember Hunter,” Adam said. “But I never met his brother, Blake. Billy used to tutor Blake though. Small world.”
“How did you know Hunter?” Tommy asked.
“He got into trouble a lot when he was a kid,” Adam said. “I actually met him once while I was visiting my dad at the station. He wasn’t bad really, he just had a habit of picking fights with bullies. And his dad had taught him some mean fighting techniques.”
“I noticed,” Tommy said.
“He was always quiet, like me. But on the inside was all this pent up anger. I felt sorry for him, and kind of took him under my wing for a while,” Adam said. “I tried to use martial arts as a way to control his temper and help him find some calm.”
“Did it work?” Tommy said.
“It was working for a while, but then…” Adam hesitated. “He lost his parents. After that things started going downhill. I saw him less and less until we finally just lost touch.”
Tommy nodded. “I think I remember you talking about him now.”
“Ever since Hunter, I’ve had the idea of opening a dojo for troubled kids,” Adam said.
“How did his parents die?” Tommy asked.
Adam hesitated. He looked down.
“What?” Tommy asked. “Tell me.”
“They died about seven years ago,” Adam said. He sighed. “They got caught in the crossfire of a battle between the Power Rangers and the Dark Warlords, led by the Green Dragon Ranger. Led by you.”
Tommy’s face grew pale.
Nine-year-old Blake sat in the hallway of his dad’s apartment and kept his head hung low. His older brother Hunter sat besides him. Their parents’ divorce had separated them; Blake stayed with their dad in Angel Grove Central while Hunter stayed with their mom in Angel Grove East. But they did get to visit each other every week.
Unfortunately whenever their mom dropped off or picked up Hunter, she started an argument with their father. Or he started an argument with her.
“I do you a favor by dropping that boy off here every weekend, Lee,” their mother, Lilly said. She always called their father by his last name. “You can at least show me some respect for that.”
Lee scoffed. “You drop him off because you can’t stand to keep him any longer than you have to, woman. You have no interest in the boy. You only took him to spite me.”
“No interest? They’re delinquents. Both of them. Just like their worthless father,” Lilly said.
Blake heard the slap of his father’s hand across his mother’s face. He cringed, and wrapped his arms around his legs, which he moved up to his chest.
Hunter looked to his little brother. “Try not to listen to them.”
The building suddenly shook with a violent tremor.
Hunter climbed to his feet and looked out the nearest window. Blake followed, but stayed behind his older brother. They looked to the streets, three stories down, and saw the Power Rangers fighting against Dragon Ranger and the Dark Warlords.
The Green Dragon Ranger charged a bolt of jade-tinted energy between his hands and hurled the blast at the Rangers. The Power Rangers dove aside, and the blast exploded against Lee’s apartment building.
The explosion knocked Hunter and Blake off their feet and sent them skidding across the hall. The ceiling partially collapsed, the lights went out, and another explosion shook the building at its foundation.
Smoke and fire filled the apartment building.
Hunter coughed and rose to his feet. “Blake?”
He helped his younger brother up. Blake coughed and struggled to keep his balance. “Where’s mom and dad?”
Hunter led his younger brother through the smoke and into the living room. They stopped in their tracks at the sight of their parents covered in debris. They were not moving.
“Mom…” Blake coughed. “Dad…”
He ran to his parents and kneeled down besides them. “Get up…come on, get up…” Tears streamed down his cheeks. “I’m sorry, mom…I’m sorry…Come on, just…I’m sorry…”
Hunter’s face became pale and void of expression.
Their parents were dead. The Dragon Ranger had killed them.
To be continued…Chapter 08